It’s a busy department that most of the public don’t even know exists
Yet, the Force Intelligence Unit is at the heart of all of the RGP’s major investigations and policing strategies. From gathering intelligence on upcoming major events and keeping tabs on prolific offenders, to analysing crime hot spots and working with local and international law enforcement agencies, it’s fair to say Force Intel have their fingers in a lot of pies.
The unit is under the command of Detective Inspector Paul Barker, who has worked in the RGP for 20 years.
Paul, 45, who is originally from Sheffield, said, “Every large case that hits the headlines in one form or another will have had some involvement from Force Intelligence.
“We are responsible for collating, analysing and disseminating intelligence from a multitude of sources, including police officers, the public, HM Customs, the Gibraltar Defence Police, local and international law enforcement and security agencies, to name a few.
“With this information we provide intelligence to give our officers and other law enforcement agencies the tools they need to help identify offenders and bring people to justice.
“In a nutshell, we are a very busy office.”
All officers in the RGP for example, are encouraged to report intelligence and record it on the force’s intelligence system.
He added, “Once received, analysts check the information and then grade it, before uploading the sanitised intelligence, which officers can access 24 hours a day.”
Focused intelligence reports can then be distributed to policing teams, so that a fuller picture can be compiled about the criminal activity or offending behaviour of individuals or groups. This might result in more targeted foot patrols, search warrants and arrests.
Paul, who served in the Intelligence Corps of the British Army for a number of years before joining the RGP, said that certain departments in high risk policing areas within the RGP request information regularly; these include all the Crime Teams and Response Teams.
And, many people might not know that Force Intel is also home to Gibraltar’s Interpol Branch. So how does Interpol fit into the team?
Paul explained: “I also run the Interpol Gibraltar office. This is a sub-Bureau of the National Central Bureau in Manchester, which is the headquarters of Interpol in the UK.
“This means that we have direct access to Interpol databases and the 194 Interpol countries and their criminal data as well. It’s very useful in terms of being able to share information quickly and being able to assist in both foreign and local investigations.”
Paul continued, “We often work with Interpol. An example of this work might be if a registered sex offender comes to Gibraltar, we will receive a travel notification about this.
“We will then work with our Public Protection Unit to ensure that all the necessary safeguards are in place and that our officers know who is travelling. The sex offender may have conditions or restrictions as a result of crimes that they have committed in other jurisdictions.
“There will also be information requests from other countries asking us to share criminal data that we have on particular individuals.”
As for the close-knit team that works under Paul, there is a Detective Sergeant and two Detective Constables, who work as analysts.
He explained, “They analyse and interpret the information, so that actionable intelligence can be used for investigations or for officers on the ground that need that information quickly.
“The aim is to build the wider intelligence picture, which can be compared to finding the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, in order to understand what is happening.”
And what sort of officers are best suited to work in Force Intel?
“We look for officers who are logical, analytical, have good reasoning skills and are able to decipher and unpick large amounts of information to identify what is relevant and what is not – and what potentially, might be the golden nugget.”
Another interesting branch of Force Intel is the role of the Football Liaison Officers (FLO), whose role has become more important since Gibraltar joined UEFA in 2013.
In the RGP, the FLO’s job is to help prevent public order problems at football matches involving all Gibraltar’s teams at home or abroad.
Paul said, “Part of the job is to ensure that football hooligans don’t cause us problems. We use intel to decide how big our police officer deployment should be for each match, and whether we are likely to have any issues or not.
“For higher risk games, such as the recent FC Copenhagen visit, we were in contact with FLOs from the Danish police in the months leading up to the game. These ‘Copenhagen spotters’ came out to Gibraltar and patrolled with us on the night, providing good intel, identifying known risk supporters and engaging with them in order to prevent problems.”
As for the best thing about working in Force Intel, he said, “There are always investigations ongoing where we provide intelligence support in order to prevent and detect crime, which provides a lot of job satisfaction.
“It’s very interesting and varied work where we are dealing with information and intelligence that helps our officers to bring offenders to justice.”